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Understanding Health Disparities Across Education Groups

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  • Dana Goldman
  • Darius Lakdawalla

Abstract

Better-educated people are healthier, but the magnitude of the relationship between health and education varies substantially across groups and over time. We undertake a theoretical and empirical study of how health disparities by education vary over time and across the population, according to underlying health characteristics and market forces. One surprising implication of the theory we develop is that health disparities actually increase as the price of health inputs falls. Therefore, government subsidies for health care research or even universal health insurance may worsen health inequality. Moreover, technological progress in health care will tend to raise inequality over time. The theory also implies that health disparities will be larger for sicker, older and more vulnerable groups. The first prediction is consistent with significant expansions in health disparities over the last thirty years in the US. The second is consistent with observed patterns in the National Health Interview Survey, the Medicare Current Beneficiary Survey, and the Framingham Heart Study. The returns to schooling are twice as high for the chronically ill and for those out of the labor force, and they tend to rise with age.

Suggested Citation

  • Dana Goldman & Darius Lakdawalla, 2001. "Understanding Health Disparities Across Education Groups," NBER Working Papers 8328, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  • Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberwo:8328
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    References listed on IDEAS

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    1. Kenkel, Donald S, 1991. "Health Behavior, Health Knowledge, and Schooling," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 99(2), pages 287-305, April.
    2. Grossman, Michael, 1972. "On the Concept of Health Capital and the Demand for Health," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 80(2), pages 223-255, March-Apr.
    3. James P. Smith, 1999. "Healthy Bodies and Thick Wallets: The Dual Relation between Health and Economic Status," Journal of Economic Perspectives, American Economic Association, vol. 13(2), pages 145-166, Spring.
    4. Muurinen, Jaana-Marja, 1982. "Demand for health: A generalised Grossman model," Journal of Health Economics, Elsevier, vol. 1(1), pages 5-28, May.
    5. Selma J. Mushkin, 1962. "Health as an Investment," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 70, pages 129-129.
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    Citations

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    Cited by:

    1. Isaac Ehrlich & Yong Yin, 2005. "Explaining Diversities in Age-Specific Life Expectancies and Values of Life Saving: A Numerical Analysis," Journal of Risk and Uncertainty, Springer, vol. 31(2), pages 129-162, September.
    2. Christopher H. Wheeler, 2007. "Human capital externalities and adult mortality in the U.S," Working Papers 2007-045, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
    3. William J. Collins & Melissa A. Thomasson, 2002. "Exploring the Racial Gap in Infant Mortality Rates, 1920-1970," Vanderbilt University Department of Economics Working Papers 0201, Vanderbilt University Department of Economics.
    4. M. Christopher Auld & Nirmal Sidhu, 2005. "Schooling, cognitive ability and health," Health Economics, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., vol. 14(10), pages 1019-1034.
    5. Datta Gupta Nabanita & Lau Daniel & Pozzoli Dario, 2016. "The Impact of Education and Occupation on Temporary and Permanent Work Incapacity," The B.E. Journal of Economic Analysis & Policy, De Gruyter, vol. 16(2), pages 577-617, April.
    6. Sansani, Shahar, 2011. "The effects of school quality on long-term health," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 30(6), pages 1320-1333.
    7. Becchetti, Leonardo & Conzo, Pierluigi & Pisani, Fabio, 2014. "Education, health and subjective wellbeing in Europe," AICCON Working Papers 138-2014, Associazione Italiana per la Cultura della Cooperazione e del Non Profit.
    8. Adriana Lleras-Muney, 2005. "The Relationship Between Education and Adult Mortality in the United States," Review of Economic Studies, Oxford University Press, vol. 72(1), pages 189-221.
    9. Adriana Lleras-Muney & Frank R. Lichtenberg, 2002. "The Effect of Education on Medical Technology Adoption: Are the More Educated More Likely to Use New Drugs," NBER Working Papers 9185, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    10. Gregory, Christian & Rahkovsky, Ilya & Anekwe, Tobenna D., 2014. "Consumers’ Use of Nutrition Information When Eating Out," Economic Information Bulletin 174796, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    11. M. Kate Bundorf & Laurence Baker & Sara Singer & Todd Wagner, 2004. "Consumer Demand for Health Information on the Internet," NBER Working Papers 10386, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    12. Variyam, Jayachandran N., 2005. "Nutrition Labeling in the Food-Away-From-Home Sector: An Economic Assessment," Economic Research Report 7235, United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service.
    13. Lakhanpal, Manisha & Ram, Rati, 2008. "Educational attainment and HIV/AIDS prevalence: A cross-country study," Economics of Education Review, Elsevier, vol. 27(1), pages 14-21, February.
    14. Donald Kenkel & Dean Lillard & Alan Mathios, 2006. "The Roles of High School Completion and GED Receipt in Smoking and Obesity," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 24(3), pages 635-660, July.

    More about this item

    JEL classification:

    • I1 - Health, Education, and Welfare - - Health

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